Confessions of a Chronically Late Insane Person

In June 2015, Elite Daily published an article by John Haltiwanger called, "Optimistic People All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Always Late," which basically says late people are the best.

I am not writing about that article.

I want to talk about Tim Urban of Wait But Why's response to that article. Yes, I want to talk about an article that talks about an article. If this article were being written by rapper Xzibit, he would say, "Yo dawg, I hear you like articles about late people, so I put an article about late people in your article about late people." If this article was a movie it would be 2010's Inception. I digress, and now I'm late in actually starting to talk about Tim's response.

Tim says his Wait But Why cofounder Andrew sent him the link to John's article. And he says the headline was intriguing because there is nothing better than the headline, "The reason people are [bad quality that describes you] is actually because they’re [good quality]." He got reading. He writes, "By the end of the article, I had never felt prouder to be a chronically late person."

And therein lies the problem. "What the hell is going on?" Tim writes. "Late people are the worst. It’s the quality I like least in myself. And I’m not late because I like to smell the roses, or because I can see the big picture, or because the future is full of infinite possibilities. I’m late because I’m insane."

So, Tim spent some time thinking about lateness and finally came up with an explanation for his dueling feelings on lateness. It comes down to there being two kinds of lateness:

1. Okay lateness. "This is when the late person being late does not negatively impact anyone else—like being late to a group hangout or a party," Tim explains. "Things can start on time and proceed as normal with or without the late person being there yet."

2. Not-okay lateness. "This is when the late person being late does negatively impact others—like being late to a two-person dinner or meeting or anything else that simply can’t start until the late party arrives," writes Tim.

He then breaks that second group into two subgroups.

Group 1: "Those who don’t feel bad or wrong about it. These people are assholes," writes Tim. (I agree!)

Group 2: "Those who feel terrible and self-loathing about it," Tim says. "These people have problems."

I get Group 1: they're insane narcissists without empathy. But here's the interesting thing. Tim says, "Punctual people think all not-okay late people are in Group 1." And that is terrifying.

I am, like Tim, a member of Group 2. I am what he calls a CLIP (Chronically Late Insane Person). I am regularly late, but I absolutely hate the idea of making people wait. I am an insane paradox.

"While both groups of not-okay late people end up regularly frustrating others, a reliable way to identify a Group 2 CLIP is a bizarre compulsion to defeat themselves—some deep inner drive to inexplicably miss the beginning of movies, endure psychotic stress running to catch the train, crush their own reputation at work, etc. etc.," Tim explains, with unnerving insight into my life. "As much as they may hurt others, they usually hurt themselves even more."

Tim then includes an incredibly relatable cartoon depicting a person, the Rational Decision-Maker, knowing exactly what time they need to get going. When that time arrives, the Instant Gratification Monkey comes in and says, "Continuing to do what we're currently doing is a more enjoyable activity than packing up and leaving." The monkey says, "Not this minute, the next minute" over and over again until the person is left late and scrambling.

Totally me. Seriously if you drew some red hair on there, it would be uncanny.

"CLIPs are strange people," Tim writes. "I’m sure each CLIP is insane in their own special way, and to understand how they work, you’ll usually have to get to some dark inner psychology." He says that for him, his CLIP-iness is a mixture of three traits: denial about how time works, a weird aversion to changing circumstances, and just generally being mad at himself.

In the end Tim says, "Don’t excuse the CLIPs in your life—it’s not okay and they need to fix it—but remember, it’s not about you. They have problems."

I really do need to fix it.